REJOICE FOR YOUR REWARD WILL BE GREAT IN HEAVEN
(Homily for Sunday 17 February, 2019)
One of the basic things that differentiate the human person from other living creatures is the ability to make choice especially when there are options and alternatives. Among other choices in life, the choice to live and to live well is the desire of many people if not all. That is why you see people engaging themselves to so many things in order to actualize this basic dream of living well.
The first reading of today provides us with two alternatives of trust that leads to two different things. One leads to destruction: the trust in man and the second leads to life; the trust in God. The question here is: Does it mean that trusting ourselves in certain issues is useless? The answer is no after all our life here on earth is full trusting the other person starting from the time of our birth. Think of the trust a little child has for the parents especially for the mother, the trust between bosom friends, the trust between the subjects and the Superior. The trust between husband and wife, the trust between passengers and the driver, the trust between those on board in the aircraft and the pilot, those in the ship and the captain. Also imagine the trust you have for your personal driver, personal secretary, personal assistant, even your personal cook. All these are various trusts we naturally have among ourselves.
However, the type of trust presented today is another set of trust that is higher. The trust that has to do with our spiritual life and in this type of trust, God is the ultimate and nothing should come in between it. That is why the first reading puts it this way “Thus says the LORD: Cursed is the one who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a barren bush in the desert that enjoys no change of season but stands in a lava waste, a salt and empty earth” (Jer 17:5-6).
We can see that our spiritual strength lies in God because without His grace, we can practically do nothing. This is the first choice provided today. The second alternative is a type of trust that goes with a blessing and it is this “Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose hope is the LORD. He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream: it fears not the heat when it comes; its leaves stay green; in the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit. This type of trust is the ultimate because of its benefits. This type of trust then goes with delighting in the law of the Lord and meditating on His word day and night as the Psalmist says.
In the second reading, St. Paul reminds us that the resurrection of Christ is the foundation of our faith because without it, we will be regarded as the most unfortunate set of people. Our true existence is beyond both space and time. The resurrection of Jesus is the guarantee of our own resurrection and is what puts sense into choosing Christ’s way. The fact that Jesus rose from dead proves that truth is stronger than fiction, that love is stronger than hatred, that good is stronger than death.
St. Paul calls Jesus’ resurrection from the dead “the first – fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1Cor 15:20). “first – fruits” according to the Jewish tradition is referred to that part of the harvest which was the first and the best to ripen, a sign of the harvest to come. They were brought to the temple to be offered to God. Jesus’ resurrection, too, was a sign of the harvest of resurrections of all believers to come. The resurrection is so fundamental to Christian belief that it, along with the cross, stands at the center of our teaching.
Coming to the gospel of today, Christ provided us with different alternatives and choices that will help us to make heaven. In fact, I termed the beatitudes “the kingdom of heaven made easy” As we pointed out in the first reading about the need of making good choices, here Christ offers us the opportunities that will help us to secure our ticket to heaven. Just take a closer look at the gospel of today and then the movement of blessings that go to the different set of people who live a particular way of life.
The question now is “where do you belong?” are you among those who are spiritually poor or the peacemaker, or the merciful, or the pure of heart or those who hunger and thirst for justice as recorded in the gospel Matthew (Matt 5:3-10). All these set of people have blessings attached to them for living this way.
Let us ask God to give us the grace of making choices that will bring us peace of mind and help us secure eternal life at the end.
Let Us Pray: Lord Jesus Christ, I want to be happy on earth and to live with you in the end. Help me to put my trust in you at all times. Amen.